Uniqlo eyes Indian market
Fast Retailing Co’s Uniqlo chain of casual clothing aims to enter the Indian market “as soon as possible” to tap faster-growing economies to bolster sales. “We want to study details of the agreement between Japan and India right away,” Fast Retailing president Tadashi Yanai said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday, referring to the trade agreement that the two nations signed on Wednesday. “We want to enter India as soon as possible.” Fast Retailing, Asia’s largest clothing chain, plans to expand the number of Uniqlo stores overseas in an effort to boost sales sixfold to ￥5 trillion (US$60 billion) by 2020. Making Uniqlo’s ￥3,990 jeans available in India, where the government predicts economic growth of 8.6 percent this year, could help Fast Retailing stem its slowest sales growth in more than seven years. Separately, Uniqlo said yesterday it aimed to sell more than 10 million pairs of chino and cargo pants this spring and summer.
Comcast beats estimates
Comcast Corp, the cable company that took control of NBC Universal Inc last month, reported fourth-quarter profit and sales that beat analysts’ estimates and plans to boost its dividend and stock buyback program. Profit, excluding costs from the purchase of NBC Universal, was US$0.35 a share. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey predicted US$0.32 on average. Sales rose 7.2 percent to US$9.72 billion, topping projections of US$9.56 billion. Completing the NBC Universal deal gives Comcast’s financial position greater clarity, said Tom Eagan, an analyst at Collins Stewart LLC in New York. Last year, the largest US cable company lagged behind Time Warner Cable Inc and Cablevision Systems Corp in market performance. Investors were concerned regulatory conditions might limit the upside of the NBC venture. The Philadelphia-based company boosted its dividend to US$0.45 a share annually from US$0.38.
Crude soars past US$104
London crude prices extended gains to hold at two-and-a-half year highs of more than US$104 a barrel yesterday, as fresh Israel-Iran tension fed spreading unrest in the Middle East and stoked fears of a disruption of oil flows in the region. US oil gave up its morning gains to fall below US$85 a barrel, after industry data showed crude inventories rose last week, although the increase was lower than expected. Brent crude for April delivery rose US$0.27 to US$104.05 a barrel by 7:30am, after settling US$2.14 higher at US$103.78, its highest close since September 2008, and off an earlier high of US$104.52.
Honda issues global recall
Japanese automaker Honda yesterday said it was recalling 693,497 vehicles worldwide because of defective parts that could stall the engine and cause problems restarting in certain models. Honda spokeswoman Natsuno Asanuma said the recall would affect models of its Freed compact minivan, Fit compact car and City sedan, including about 170,000 of the Freed and Fit in Japan. The recall affects more than 220,000 units in Asia, mainly the ASEAN area, and about 156,000 in China, she said. No accidents associated with the defect have been reported, she said. Defective spring parts may deteriorate over time resulting in abnormal engine sounds and in the worst case, cause stalling and problems restarting.